You know it’s bad when someone mouthed off something bad about your team and your team does not stuff it back right down the idiot’s throat. That is exactly what happened for Arsenal and Patrice Evra. The United player downplayed Arsenal’s chance to win the league this season in the run-up to the Monday night game and we had a chance to make him eat his words. Sadly, that wasn’t what transpired and in some ways, Evra’s comments were justified. Today, Evra came out and had the last laugh. Truth often hurts.
The big thing today is of course the Champions League draw for the knock-out stage. That would start in about an hour’s time. At this point, given the participants in this next stage, Arsenal are already assured of either going to Germany or Spain. One out of Shalke, Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Real Madrid would be our opponents in February. Even with the possibility of facing Bayern, you would fancy our chances if Germany is the destination. The form that Barca is in and the Mourinho-factor at Madrid makes me shudder at the prospect of drawing them.
But that’s the thing about this competition. If any team harbours any hope of winning the competition, they are bound to face the top teams at one stage or another. I believe we owe Barca a performance with our best 11. Then we’ll see how big the gap is between us and the team generally accepted as the Class A version of Arsenal. From another perspective, if it means we go out early in the competition so as to allow us to concentrate on domestic challenges, I would be far from unhappy.
It is not easy to compete all 3 different fronts, let alone 4. Without the distraction of Europe, Arsene Wenger may be able to not rotate his players at all. Without the trouble of travelling great distances, it means more recovery period for aching legs and bodies. It will also allow players and the coaching staff to put their focus in one place rather than being spread thin. That being said, I would very much love it if Arsenal go on and win the Champions League for the very first time.
After the draw, Arsenal will face Stoke tomorrow at the Grove. There is arguably a lot of bad blood between the two clubs. Arsenal are rightly incensed by the Aaron Ramsey double fracture and frankly, I still am. Wenger was asked about it in the press conference yesterday and you can see he is still upset about it. Ryan Shawcross does not get his forgiveness and neither will he get most of Arsenal fans. No matter what Stoke’s manager, Tony Pulis might argue differently, it was a rash challenge that was completely out of place. So, I’m begging those of you inside the stadium tomorrow to give both Shawcross and his hat-wearing idiot of a manager hell. Abuse away.
An interesting piece in Sport.co.uk in an interview with David Seaman. I particularly like to pick out this comment by Seaman;
Arsene picks his own goalkeepers. He loves statistics on goalkeepers, like spring and reaction time, and Fabianski is brilliant at that, and he tops the stats. But the one thing you do need is natural talent, and finding that is hard, but they have that at Arsenal. The true stories never come out. And on this occasion the true story will not come out. That is all I can say really. Ashley has been dealt with wrongly by the club and I am not going to go into anything else on that. He is also the best left-back in the world, not one of them, the best left-back. He got dealt with badly at Arsenal and he was hung out to dry a little bit and that is all I can really say.
We all know Wenger is an expert in economics and numbers are really important to him. Judging from that statement, you’ll see why Lukasz Fabianksi remains a favourite of Wenger. Is that another twist to the Ashley Cole story? There may be some element of truth in that but I would’ve expect someone who loves this club since young and grown up to be a player of the club, to at least fight for his place or rights in the club. Best left back he may be but Cole should not have gone to meet those Chelsea people in the first place.
You realise the transfer window is approaching when rumours start to fly around. If you believe the stories, Denilson may be heading for Wolfsburg, Emmanuel Eboue may be heading for Roma, Gael Clichy to Real Madrid and Eden Hazard coming to Arsenal. Make of it what you will.
Match preview tomorrow. Have a nice Friday.